I know it’s a little bit trendy right now to talk about the Whole 30 and sing it’s praises (or not), but as I get deeper and deeper into it, I feel compelled to share my experience this time around. As I write this post, Day 24 is coming to a close.
I first did a Whole 30 a few years ago, after suffering from chronic back pain, poor sleep quality, and low energy levels. I was in the midst of working full time and going to graduate school, so I was a total stress monster, having major mood swings, fits of hanger, and I cried all the time. Like, all the time. I heard of the program through some blogs I followed, and thought it was worth trying. But aside from gaining a higher awareness of food and learning to experiment more with my cooking, I didn’t really see the results I was going for. MJ on the other hand, shed weight like it was his job, even though he didn’t have much to lose to begin with.
I think my life at the time was too stressful to allow a program like the Whole 30 affect me. It is about overall wellness, not just physical health and nutrition. It even says it on the cover of the book, “It Starts With Food“. But it doesn’t end there.
In the two years since my first round, I have watched with excitement as the world of food slowly caught on. I am finding more and more “compliant” items at the grocery store, and I am coming across more resources online and on social media. With the wealth of information and tools that have since become available, I felt like it was time to give it another go. And so, on January 1st this year, in lieu of a New Years Resolution, I began my #januarywhole30. (Ok, I know that hashtag will do nothing here, but I’ve been using it on Instagram.)
The reasons I had for doing the Whole 30 a second time were similar to the first time. I was still suffering from chronic back pain; I was beyond lethargic in the mornings, pressing snooze as many times as I could get away with; my hanger rages were getting out of control.
Oh, and if I said that weight loss wasn’t a factor in my decision to do the program, that would be a lie. In general though, I don’t like to admit it. I would describe myself as “skinny-fat”. I look thin in my clothes, but what I get to see in the mirror every day is a much different story. It’s seriously no fun sitting at work all day trying to adjust the front of my pants in an effort to squeeze in my bloated fupa. Plus, I’m getting married in five months, and figured embarking on a healthy lifestyle is much more sustainable than a diet. Permanent fupa deflation > temporary fupa deflation.
Another thing on my side this time around is that my life has calmed down significantly in the last year. I’m done with school (woohoo!) and am living a much more active life than I was able to just a few years ago. I knew I would be able to take the challenge head on and have no excuses to fail.
What a difference a few years can make! Because I went into it feeling armed with knowledge, it has hardly felt like a challenge at all. I feel my skin is brighter and more clear, and that pesky extra weight around my waist is slimming down. A recent shopping trip left me feeling good about myself and what I saw in the mirror, resulting in many outfit selfies. That is not always the case.
But most significantly, I WAKE UP IN THE MORNING!! I have not hit snooze one time since beginning my second journey with the Whole 30. You have no idea how big of a deal this is to me. Every single morning for my entire adult life, I lay in bed with my eyes squeezed shut, feeling worthless for not just being able to get up and go. Not to mention the disastrous rush in the morning that results from getting out of bed late. I cannot tell you how many years of resolutions, pages of entries in my journal, and yoga practice dedications have been unable to solve this problem. I literally popped my eyes open on Day 4 ready to get up and ready for work.
I’m sure everyone on Instagram is sick of my food pictures, but I don’t care. It feels like bragging a little bit to overshare, but I just want everyone to know that this is not deprivation. The food I am eating is delicious, I look forward to every meal (because I’ve planned ahead and know what it will be), and I am full and satiated after every meal. I rarely feel the need to snack.
I find recipes on the Whole30Recipes Instagram Page, I’ve become a loyal follower of NomNom Paleo, and when inspiration strikes, I just make it up. I also like to modify recipes that my mom gives me to make them compliant. Usually it’s just a matter of swapping or eliminating a few ingredients.
Despite all of the positive things that I have been feeling about myself and my progress, I am surprised to discover that this time around I feel less supported by my friends and loved ones. It is almost like they see my eating choices to be restrictions on them. At brunch recently, friends chuckled with pity when I ordered my coffee black. My inability to drink alcohol this month makes me un-fun, and has resulted in cancelled plans and annoying comments.
It is frustrating and alienating to be treated like I am a prisoner of this program. Certain foods and alcohol are prohibited, but that doesn’t mean fun is! This month, I’ve gone on wintery hikes in the woods, taken my dog to the beach, gone ice skating… the list goes on. But apparently none of that was fun because I wasn’t drinking alcohol. Sigh…
While I know some people in my life are counting down the days to Day 31, I am wondering how I can keep the streak going. I haven’t been going to the gym much (waiting for all the resolution-makers to give up so it isn’t so crowded!) and instead doing workouts at home. I plan to continue eating mostly paleo, and exercising more. In a way, I’m almost afraid for this to end, since I’m so happy with my results and I don’t want them to go away. I will say, however, I’m pretty excited to reunite with cheese. (Sometimes.)
How have other people made the transition back into regular life? I’d love to hear your stories!